Enforcement of Child Support

When a court enters an order of child support, it orders one party to pay a certain sum of money to another for the support of a child. The person who is ordered to pay is called the obligor. The person who received the payment is the obligee. The amount of child support that is payable is usually based on state law that takes into consideration the number of children for which an obligor is responsible and the amount of income the obligor earns from all sources.

Child Support Enforcement Program

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Program is a federal program that coordinates with the states and local governmental entities in locating obligors, their employers, or their assets in order to enforce the support orders. The federal government funds the program, issues policies, ensures compliance with the policies and coordinates efforts with other federal agencies that help support the CSE program. The state and local CSE offices provide day to day operation of the program.


In order to participate in the CSE, a person has to establish that a noncustodial parent has an obligation to support a child. This can be done by establishing paternity, in the case of a child born out of wedlock, and the amount of the obligation. If a child support order has already been entered in a paternity case or a divorce case, a local CSE office will review any documentation that the custodial parent can provide as to the whereabouts of the obligor, his employer, or his assets. When the obligor has been located, the CSE will seek to obtain an order requiring the employer to deduct the amount stated in the child support order, as well as a portion of any accrued arrearages from the obligor's paycheck. The local CSE office will have the amounts sent to the custodial parent.

If the custodial parent has been receiving public aid, the CSE office may file a petition to recover the support payments on behalf of the government agency that is providing that aid. In such cases, the agency becomes the obligee and can enforce the support orders on its own behalf, to the extent it provides aid.

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